Impact of Mesophyll Diffusion on Estimated Global Land CO2 Fertilization

Monday, 15 December 2014
Ying Sun1, Lianhong Gu2 and Robert E Dickinson1, (1)University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, United States, (2)Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN, United States
In C3 plants, CO2 concentrations drop considerably along mesophyll diffusion pathways from substomatal cavities to chloroplasts where CO2 assimilation occurs. Global carbon cycle models have not explicitly represented this internal drawdown and so overestimate CO2 available for carboxylation and underestimate photosynthetic responsiveness to atmospheric CO2. An explicit consideration of mesophyll diffusion increases the modeled cumulative CO2 fertilization effect (CFE) for global gross primary production (GPP) from 915 PgC to 1057 PgC for the period of 1901 to 2010. This increase represents a 16% correction large enough to explain the persistent overestimation of growth rates of historical atmospheric CO2 by Earth System Models. Without this correction, the CFE for global GPP is underestimated by 0.05 PgC yr-1ppm-1. This finding implies that the contemporary terrestrial biosphere is more CO2-limited than previously thought.